Flickr founder closes latest Vancouver tech venture, lays off staff

Stewart Butterfield, the Vancouver entrepreneur who co-founded the popular photo sharing site Flickr, which was acquired by Yahoo, has announced he is shutting down his ...

Stewart Butterfield, the Vancouver entrepreneur who co-founded the popular photo sharing site Flickr, which was acquired by Yahoo, has announced he is shutting down his latest venture – a game called Glitch.

Roughly 30 Glitch developers and associated staff, most of them based in Vancouver, will lose their jobs.

Butterfield left Flickr in 2008 and founded a new gaming development company, Tiny Speck, whose main product was Glitch, a multiplayer online game that featured highly stylized graphics.

In April 2011, Tiny Speck raised $10.7 million in the second round of financing. But just a little over a year after its official launch at the end of September 2011, the game is being shut down. It will go dark on December 9. The company has announced it will provide refunds to subscribers.

The proliferation of iPhones and iPads, which are incompatible with Adobe Flash, appears to be at least part of the reason for the game’s underperformance, according to a public posting on the glitch website.

“Unfortunately, Glitch has not attracted an audience large enough to sustain itself and based on a long period of experimentation and our best estimates, it seems unlikely that it ever would,” said the posting.

“And, given the prevailing technological trends — the movement towards mobile and especially the continued decline of the Flash platform on which Glitch was built — it was unlikely to do so before its time was up. Glitch was very ambitious and pushed the limits of what could be done in a browser-based game ... and then those limits pushed back.”

Butterfield has tweeted that Tiny Speck is not shutting down – just the game.

nbennett@biv.com

@nbennett_biv

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